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Ivanhoe uncut


How I loved Ivanhoe when I was a girl. And everything I have recently heard from Amazon reviewers suggests I'll be enthralled when I reread Scott's historical novel.

However, some people feel it ought to be shortened, either because readers today don't know how to skip Scott's longer descriptive sections on Norman table manners and the furnishing of dungeons or because. . .well, why would they want to cut Ivanhoe?

Ivanhoe was Walter Scott’s most popular novel in his own day – perhaps because, set in mediaeval England, there was no Scots dialect to puzzle English readers. It entranced people all over Europe, with Goethe declaring that Scott had invented “a wholly new art”. It is still his best-known. Some 100,000 copies of the Penguin edition of the revised scholarly Edinburgh edition have been sold in the past few years; it has been made into a stage play and an opera (music by Sullivan); it has been filmed and adapted for television several times. A N Wilson, in his splendid book on Scott, The Laird of Abbotsford, compared it to Pugin’s Houses of Parliament: “Both are not merely works of art, but brilliant pieces of myth-making.”. . .

Never mind the myth-making. Ivanhoe is a romance, when the word romance still meant adventure. . .

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